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Now I know how zombies feel. Every muscle hurt, every sinew ached, every fiber of my being screamed out “fall down and die you fool!” Yet we moved. Fueled by a noxious cocktail of hate, despair, and fear, we shambled forth towards the center of the park.
Above us the sky was a whirling dervish, a chaotic maelstrom of black clouds and lightning. All around us the remnant bullshit of humanity swirled in the ever stronger winds. That guy from the “will it blend” viral videos came to mind. I became convinced that at any point Mother Nature was going to turn the earth upside down and pour out the dusty remains of this once proud megalopolis and a big YES with a check mark next too it would appear in the sky.
We brought the bikes, and stashed them under a small bridge. Just because the end of the world was scheduled for today didn’t mean you left perfectly good bikes behind to perish. Before us, backlit by the constant flash of the cancerous sky, was our destination.
At the top of Cherry Hill, in a small circular section demarked by a small paved footpath, sat two people huddling together against the sky’s rage. They looked cold and wet, but alive. Marla’s black dread locks whipped against her neck and Jake’s tall muscled form could be seen crouching over her. It wasn’t a dream, they were here and they were alive.
“Their they are Q! Run!” Rain was gone before I could stop her.
Her hair and messenger bag flailed wildly in the wind as she willed herself up the muddy slope. Her muscular legs tore giant clods of soil and grass free as she went.
A sinking feeling in me made me hesitate. Something was seriously wrong about all of this. Boston had been leveled. The very street surface had been ripped up and washed out to sea. How had these two people survived, only to be suddenly transported to the middle of New York City? The pain in my arm started to ignite a tingling sensation in my brain.
The raid on Rain’s apartment, the guys chasing her on her bike, the abduction of Marla and Jake, the strange message on the internet, the road sign at the Lincoln tunnel, why were these people going through all this trouble for a simple bicycle messenger. What did Rain do? They couldn’t possibly be this upset about the small amount of money she had borrowed.
None of it made any sense, and then suddenly, it did. The shock of the realization was palpable. My arm twitched, and my feet began to move. They weren’t after her, they were after me! The buzzing in my head was out of control, I only had a couple of seconds to stop what was about to happen.
“Rain, Stop! Get Down!” It was useless the gale force winds stole every word from my mouth and crushed them into oblivion.
I was literally running on empty. I hadn’t eaten in days, had been riding my bike at an exhaustion level, and recently had abandoned a couple pints of myself all over the ground. But I ran. My lungs tore at me, but I ran. I had to beat Rain up that hill I had to be the first one to the top.
I sprinted, really, a sprint. Poor skinny little me, sprinted. Within seconds I was right behind her; she seemed to have found a slippery patch and was having trouble moving any higher up the hill. Trouble I added to when I reached out and grabbed her by the leg and pulled her down hard into the mud.
I didn’t have time to stop and survey the damage I had caused. The vision in my head was so horrible that it had to be stopped. I reached the top of the hill covered in grime, before me sat Marla and Jake gagged and chained to large metal stakes that were securely driven into the ground. They both looked haggard, but unhurt. Their eyes pleaded to me to do something, anything to save them from the coming storm.
The sound had changed; the tone of the wind was picking up a notch. Larger chunks of debris began to skate across the ground, and the rain began to fall a little harder. Ophelia was done messing around, the real show was about to begin. I threw both hands up in the universal sign of surrender and began to scream.
From the darkness of the park sprang tiny red beams. They were like tiny spider webs of red holding a tiny ruby wherever they intersected the thousands of rain drops that were currently hogging the air space around me. These were the kind of red beams produced by several dozen military grade red laser sights as highly trained snipers took aim on us from hidden locations throughout the park. I knew what I had to do.
“If you hurt any of them, I won’t help you!”